Yoga Sutras: Reflections from Experience on Teacher Training – Part One
Atha Yoga Anushasanam
The experience of yoga takes place within you, now, in the present moment Patanjali Yoga Sutras 1.1
Over the month of August a wonderful group of people came to study on our Centered Yoga: Education in Yoga 200 hour teacher training program. It is a month immersed in practice, study and deep discussions, unravelling yoga and life. But it is also a personal and transforming journey that goes beyond practice and into inner experience, the space yoga aims to touch.
As Gill, one of Samahita’s teachers offers … “sitting around our closing fire last Thursday evening one of the students observed how a log, at first ‘protected’ by its bark, split open and exposed the smooth wood beneath to the flames, reflecting her own experience over the month. As is often the case when we push ourselves and face challenges fearlessly the result is growth and deep personal development …when subjected to heat, Tapas, transformation truly occurs…”
Here, one of our students, Ludmilla reflects on how the sutras aided her journey:
“When I first read the Sutras, I found it hard to dig into them because I was struggling with two notions. First, I would not agree with the concept of “surrender” or “devotion” because I had the feeling it was a way to escape reality and I would therefore associate this whole philosophy to a religion or even a dogma. I could not accept to surrender because it meant losing my responsibility as an individual and it felt like laziness to me. This whole philosophy week helped me understand that it was in fact the opposite. We have to surrender to the divine, but to the divine in ourselves, which means that we have to take responsibility for our actions. We have to try to see things as they really are and try to use that wisdom to act in a responsible way and not hurt others.
“Now I understand “surrender” as a way to trust the unconditional love that lies in all of us. In that sense, living an ethical life, implies to look into yourself to understand your real nature, analyze your actions and try to understand that all sufferings come from a misunderstanding or a denial of our true nature.
“Then, I was also struggling with the concept of “non-attachment”. I could imagine giving up on material things, social status, etc. but I could not imagine not being attached to my daughter and my family. Understanding that the Sutras was a text written a long time ago in an elaborate language and that it had been translated and interpreted in many different ways, helped me change my mind. The concept of “non-dependency” makes much more sense to me and seems much more applicable. Before, I had the impression that you had to be a monk in a cave to be able to live a life dedicated to yoga, but now I understand that yoga is a very democratic gate to happiness.
“Having overcome those two “theoretical” obstacles, I am now looking forward to dig deeper into this old but timeless philosophy. The more I dedicate myself to it, the more I can feel how it applies to all aspects of my life. I am amazed how people living such a long time ago have been able to gather all those very deep concepts into such a minimalistic method. They got rid of all the useless words and ideas to achieve simple and striking principles, the same way we will have to get rid of every piece of our ego by a continuous process of purification and sublimation.
“I am grateful for all of you taking time to share your knowledge with us, for your patience and for the way you cared about all of us.
Now I am not afraid anymore to look in: “Atha yoganusasanam”. ”
Reading Ludmilla’s words again, as I write this, I am filled with immense gratitude for the past month and for the group of women who shared, moved, studied, analyzed and lived together openly and harmoniously without judgement and with a true desire to learn and grow.
Now the challenge comes as “Life is Tricky”
But we have the tools needed to continue, to breathe into a new lIfe…keep looking in.
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